HOUSTON (AP) - James Harden scored 44 points and powered a big fourth-quarter run that allowed the Houston Rockets to outlast the Minnesota Timberwolves 104-101 on Sunday night in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series. The Rockets had the NBA's best regular season record at 65-17 and won all four meetings with the Wolves handily.
Jeff Teague flirted with a triple-double (15 points, nine rebounds, eight assists) while Derrick Rose added 16 points off the bench for Minnesota.
The Rockets opponent, the Minnesota Timberwolves, clinched their first playoff birth in 14 years by beating the Denver Nuggets in the regular season finale.
Then Khris Middleton forced overtime with an absurd 3-pointer at the buzzer that barely got off his fingertips in time. Butler is now 0 for 12 this season in the final 10 seconds when the Wolves are tied or losing by three or less. In this picture, Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets dribbles the ball against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., December 29, 2017. The Rockets know this and they actually rely on isolation scoring as much as any team in the league thanks largely to these switches. Capela had 20 points and 10 rebounds at halftime, but was limited in the second half and added just four more points and two rebounds.
So how did Houston do against the T-wolves this season? While it's fair to say that the Rockets had most teams' numbers this season, the fact remains that it's hard to argue with a sweep.